the enemy’s ship
I quickly realized that my best course of action would be to try and stop the ship. It was better to stop further attack from happening rather than force my kingdom to face a fake enemy.
I took a last glance at my escaping Magical and sighed before I started once more toward the top of the mountain. This time I was more careful, watching over my shoulder so no wild beast could surprise me again, but the enemy was doing a good job in keeping the Magicals distracted. The consecutive blare of a horn sent the beasts into such a frenzy they failed to notice anything surrounding them.
When I reached the volcano opening, tears made it through to my eyes. I couldn’t bear seeing the beasts in agony. We fight Magicals every night because we have to protect ourselves, not because we want to hurt them. We know they mean us no particular harm, and it is the Magicals who help us become safe once we bond with them. For us, Magicals are no more than wild animals that follow their basic instincts, that is how nature works, and we must respect it.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to focus on coming up with a plan. I couldn’t afford to be emotional. I quietly traversed the top of the mountain, keeping my head ducked in case whoever was in the ship could see me. I needed to find a way to get on board. I clenched my fist, with a sense of helplessness at Afakan’s ability to fly, but with that frustration, I grew more determined.
I found an edge that was somewhat close to the ship and climbed it quickly before throwing my whip toward one of the ship’s four legs. I failed to grab hold of it the first three times, but on the fourth attempt, I succeeded. I then yanked on my whip to make sure it was secure before scaling my way to the ship.
Using the strength of both my upper body and leg muscles, I made it to the top. The ship had a lot of exterior damage in the way of dents and dings, which made it easy to get a foothold and move around. The ship was large and it took me less than ten minutes to reach the top.
I crawled on all fours hoping to keep my presence unknown by avoiding any unnecessary noise that could alert those on board. I kept moving until I found a hatch that I believed could lead to the inside. I tried to open it, but there was no handle, and the force I used didn’t work either.
I decided to find a different hatch, and even though I suspected it would be similar to the mechanism I couldn’t open, I hoped something would be different.
As I moved around atop the ship, the horn sounded again, throwing me off balance and causing me to drop to the metal surface. The scream of the horn was so close, I was sure I would lose my hearing. I crumbled into a ball and blocked my ears with my hands, but the blare still made it through. When the horn finally stopped, I squeezed my eyes shut, tensing my entire face as I rubbed my forehead, the pain now in my head sharpening with each second that passed.
When I opened my eyes again, I looked at my watch to check my calculations. I had been studying the time between the sounding of the horn and clocked a new siren every ten minutes. I followed the origin of the sound and saw a speaker attached to the ship’s surface. I moved to it and tried to pull it out with my hands but couldn’t, so I kicked it multiple times until finally, it was no longer part of the ship’s body.
As the speaker rolled off the surface, falling toward the heart of the volcano, I ran atop the ship knocking down anything else that I believed could be part of the ship’s sound system. I checked my watch again after dismantling thirteen pieces and noticed there was less than a minute left before the next horn.
I placed my palms on the metal surface, waiting for the next siren and ready to follow the source of its sound so I could take it down like I did the others, but as the time struck its mark, no blaring horn sounded. What I heard instead was the clicking of mechanical gears fitting perfectly into one another. I shifted my gaze to the origin of the sound and saw three guns rising out of the ship. I slowly stepped back as the guns made a full circle turn in slow motion, stopping in my direction.
I knew what would happen next, so I ran as fast as I could following a random zigzag pattern to avoid the bullets that began flying in my direction. When I reached the edge of the ship, I jumped into the air before taking the time to consider how I would land safely, but that thought didn’t matter. At the same instant my body reached the level just below the trajectory of the guns, I let out an uncontrollable scream, which followed immense pain in my side.
I closed my eyes, believing I was falling to my death until my back hit a hard surface not far from the ship. While trying to breathe through my screams of pain I felt I was rising again. I gathered all my strength to open my eyes and focusing, saw a stream of fire melting the guns. I turned to look down at the spot where I had been and realized I was on Afakan’s back. He was flying me upward, his fire growing larger with each of my screams.
I took several deep breaths to muscle through the pain before moving to my rider position. I glanced at the ship and saw it shooting away, but before I could turn Afakan to attack it again, I saw all the Magicals descending toward my kingdom.
I now had another choice to make, and only a moment to decide. Either try to fight the Magicals alone at the top of the mountain, fly Afakan down as fast as I can and help the other riders hold the kingdom, or put my faith in the riders and hunt the ship down to destroy it, once and for all.